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Alumni Legends | The Author: Katherine Paterson

Who knew that the author of Bridge to Terabithia, Newberry Award book and well-loved movie, had origins closer to the Waibaidu Bridge? Writer Katherine Paterson, who also wrote Jacob Have I Loved, was in fact born in China and spent some of her childhood at Shanghai American School in the 1940s. Recently she returned (virtually) to her alma mater by video to speak about her writing and inspiration to grade 9 students of Pudong Innovation Institute as part of their unit on interdisciplinary and multimedia storytelling. 


When asked about her journey as a writer, Paterson recounted she didn’t start her career until after she was married. “Did I think I was going to be a writer?” mused Paterson. “No! I was going to be a reader. I loved to read!” In addition, back then SAS taught more cursive than creative writing. However, we will take the credit for being Paterson’s first publisher in having printed her second-grade poem in the school newspaper.   


No doubt students were inspired by her encouragement to “fall in love with the story” they write and to ignore the inner critic. For her part, “I learned that if I got up very early in the morning, my critic was lazy and would not get up that early!” Thank you, Ms. Paterson for being an example of our mission and having the courage to live your dreams. 


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